We are aware of the issue which affected supporters who were attempting to watch Reading vs Stoke City as well as a host of other Championship fixtures up and down the country on Saturday via iFollow – an EFL-managed service which would not allow fans to log in ahead of the game to watch the start of the stream.
Now that we have a fuller understanding of the cause of this problem and how it affected our fans on matchday, we feel it important to provide an update to our supporters – both Season Ticket holders who had been granted free access, and Match Pass purchasers – who had put their faith in the service.
At 2pm, access to our match stream was successfully published on readingfc.co.uk, and EFL Digital confirmed that all fixtures being broadcast through iFollow for clubs across the Sky Bet Championship were delivering correctly via their streaming provider.
However at 2.35pm, the increased traffic to the platforms caused the servers at EFL Digital’s streaming partner to overload. The end result was that no users across the country could log-in on any device. This happened despite EFL Digital explicitly instructing their streaming provider to gear-up for the expected traffic levels for all clubs in the division.
The issue was escalated, and more servers were initiated to cater for the load. The streams returned for all clubs unilaterally at around 3.15pm, with the first 15 minutes of match action having been missed. The delivery across the rest of the afternoon went smoothly. The EFL released a statement mid-match about the incident.
EFL Digital have assured us that, as a matter of urgency, they are now seeking to understand exactly why this incident occurred, and are working with their streaming provider to understand how they minimise the risk of a recurrence of this incident in the last eight fixtures, as a matter of the highest priority.
From the perspective of Reading Football Club, we absolutely share the frustrations of our supporters that this service did not deliver as expected on matchday.
Over the past two weeks, a small team of staff at Reading FC worked extremely hard to ensure that every single Season Ticket holder had access to their promotional code to enable them to watch these fixtures – these were sent in an e-newsletter to most fans, sent as an SMS to fans who did not receive the e-mail, and manually resent upon request by our Ticket Office on occasions when supporters had not received their code. Additionally, we set up a comprehensive step-by-step guide for Season Ticket holders of how to create accounts, redeem promotional codes and watch games, as well as a detailed FAQ document for all fans to address numerous technical or practical problems which our fans may have experienced. In instances where our fans were still experiencing issues and entered into direct contact with the club, we provided assistance as thoroughly as possible.
Put simply, everyone at Reading Football Club did everything in our power to prepare our supporters to watch this behind-closed-doors fixture on iFollow.
Therefore, for the iFollow service itself to fail to deliver for the start of the fixture, due to problems with the streaming provider which were entirely out of the club’s control, was hugely disappointing for the club as it was our fans.
We remain faithful that EFL Digital will be able to seek the necessary assurances from their streaming provider to ensure that this does not happen again, and that this incident will prove to be a one-off, isolated incident which will be quickly learned from. We politely ask that our supporters also show the same faith in the iFollow service and continue to support the Royals from afar in the final fixtures.
Season Ticket holders are reminded that they can watch the last eight games for free – once redeemed, your promotional code activates your iFollow account for the remainder of the season and no further action is required. If you have never received your promotional code, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org to have it re-sent. iFollow Support can be contacted by emailing email@example.com for all other enquiries.